Art Berke, a lifelong White Sox fan, has worked at the highest levels of the sports industry with Major League Baseball, ABC Television and Sports Illustrated. He grew up in Northwest Indiana, in the shadow of old Comiskey Park, and proudly proclaims 2005 as the best year of his life. Art offers his glass half-full opinions and observations as he lives and dies with the Sox.
Just because I haven’t posted lately, it doesn’t mean I’m not eagerly awaiting the 2012 season. And it makes it more fun when the so-called experts, who frankly don’t have much more insight than those of us fans that follow the game closely, predict doomsday for our Sox.
Things seem to be coming together with a week to go before the opener against the defending A.L. champion Rangers. The remaining roster spots are in the bullpen and on the bench.
It looks like the pen will shape up with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman, Addison Reed and Hector Santiago with two of the following five fighting it out for the two remaining spots: Eric Stults, Brian Bruney, Nate Jones, Zack Stewart and Dylan Axelrod. The specific roles, including the annointment of the closer, are yet to be determined. The most interesting candidates are the rookie Reed, who closed for Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State, and Santiago, a New Jersey native who has impressed everyone in Glendale with an effective screwball.
If nothing unusual happens, Eduardo Escobar has won the last spot among position players. He’s had a good enough spring and displayed enough infield versatility to prompt the Sox to send the likes of Dan Johnson, Dallas McPherson, Jim Gallagher and Jordan Danks back to minor league camp.
It’s so hard to know what this team is going to be. For now, let’s sit back, relax and watch the RobinVentura era begin.
While A.J Pierzynski sums up 2011 season in appropriate fashion reliever Addison Reed, a former teammate of Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State who has impressed in his late-season call-up, gives the Sox hope for the future–perhaps as soon as 2012.
The nation’s sports talk shows, to the point of ad nauseum I might add, have created a new national conversation: Should Nationals’ miracle man Stephen Strasburg be named to the All-Star Game?
Frankly, I’m more concerned about what Sox players will be selected when the teams are announced today. We know we won’t have any starters because the White Sox rarely do, but the hope is that we squeak by with two players–Paul Konerko and Alex Rios–instead of the obligatory lone choice.
Maybe I’m falling into the trap of glorifying the good old days, but I think most will agree that the All-Star Game isn’t what it used to be. There’s no real rivalry anymore, there are more players selected and even though the winning club gets home field advantage for their league in the World Series, the best players aren’t around when the game is decided.
All that said, I’m still interested when the teams are announced. So I’ll be watching the TBS Selection Show today–confident Paulie’s name will be called and hoping Rios survives from a group of worthy outfielders.
And I’m still waiting for a Sox player to be the MVP of the the midsummer classic. Maybe this is the year.
The Race Goes On…
In the real world, The Sox are looking to end their road trip at 3-3. A victory tonight in Arlington against the Rangers will do it. Then it’s back home against the Angels and Royals before the All-Star break.
In two and a half months of mostly disappointing play, the White Sox have come alive. And we may look back on last night’s game against the Nats in D.C. as a real turning point. Here are some of the headlines:
–We won the “Stephen Strasburg game” despite scoring only a single run and collecting four hits against him while striking out 10 times. And while President Obama wasn’t in the house when the Sox won 2-1 in the 11th, he was there for most of the game–in a Sox cap.
–We have now won four in a row, eight of nine, nine of 11, stand only two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Twins.
—Gavin Floyd more than rose to the occasion against Strasburg, allowing only a run and five hits while striking out a handful in eight innings. The starting pitching is really on a roll.
–The pen came through big time. Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks combined for three scoreless frames.
—Alex Rios (no surprise here) drove in both Sox runs including the deciding RBI–an infield single–in the 11th.
No reason to stop now. How nice would it be to head back to Chicago with an 8-1 road trip and a .500 record? Let’s do it.
Notes of the day: Today will mark the major league debut of Dayan Viciedo, the 21-year-old Cuban prospect who arrived in the spring of 2009 with great fanfare. He’ll be at third base, backing up Jake Peavy…Peavy’s mound opponent this afternoon will be a righthander named J.D. Martin. For those more mature Sox fans, it’s J.D., not J.C. Martin of 1960s Pale Hose fame.
Of course White Sox fans would have loved a sweep at Wrigley, extend the club’s winning streak to five and to have gained a game on the Twins. But in light of last night’s developments, I’m just happy that Juan Pierre foiled Ted Lilly‘s no-no in the ninth so we didn’t have to suffer the indignity of enduring the feat amid the vines. And able to leave the North Side with a series victory.
Perhaps more important than winning a series on the road–and against the North Side Media Darlings at that–is that the Sox have begun to play entertaining, competitive baseball with solid starting pitching such as Gavin Floyd‘s gem last night. Frankly, it was getting difficult to watch their dismal play–even for the most loyal fans.
So, now it’s on to Pittsburgh and Washington starting tomorrow night. The hope is that we can continue winning series and maybe even give Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss on Friday night.
Question of the Day:Hate to be petty, but has anyone ever seen Ted Lilly smile?